Stretching from Somalia to South Africa, the Coastal East Africa Eco-region is globally recognized for its marine biodiversity, with over 11,000 species, 60-70% of which are unique to the Indo-Pacific Ocean. On the Eco-region’s northern edge sits Kenya’s Kiunga Marine National Reserve (KMNR), an area whose ecological integrity affects human and marine health along Africa’s entire Northeastern coast. In 2004, WWF partnered with African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) and the Ministry of Health (MoH) to undertake a population-health-environment project in the KMNR
This Project is supported by funds from USAID for population-environment activities, and from Johnson & Johnson for basic health activities including HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. The goal of this collaboration is to improve basic health care and moderate population growth in priority areas in and around the KMNR to improve community health, enable couples to have the family size they desire, promote sustainable natural resource management and improve local livelihoods. Through these partnerships, the Project is supporting substantial improvements in family planning and reproductive health outcomes in the KMNR area and building capacity for sustaining these successes.
Local livelihoods are dependent on the region’s outstanding marine and coastal resources. Unsustainable fishing practices, pollution, poor farming methods, habitat alteration, unchecked harvest of marine resources, and rising sea temperatures all threaten the rich marine and terrestrial habitats of the KMNR – and the communities that depend on them. The local natural resource base, including freshwater and fisheries are already severely depleted and yet population is growing at a rate of 2.5% per year. Resource depletion is entrenching job insecurity and perpetrating poverty, which in turn fosters out-migration to urban centers. Resulting female-headed households depend more on traditional products directly extracted from the already fragile ecosystem, including turtle meat and eggs to support families. The economic migration of males to and from urban areas exacerbates the spread of HIV/AIDS. The region also suffers from an almost complete lack of access to health services and commodities, further undermining livelihood opportunities for local families.
The USAID-funded Project provides reproductive health and family planning services in key areas where there is an unmet need for family planning, and population growth has serious impacts on natural resources and biodiversity. Project activities focus on reducing population pressures and on finding sustainable solutions for local livelihoods. Existing health services are strengthened, particularly in providing quality reproductive health (RH) care. In KMNR and its catchments where government health services do not reach, the Project’s partners provide general health, family planning (FP) and RH through mobile clinics.
The Project increases awareness and adoption of FP/RH by implementing an integrated reproductive health education program and promoting and providing FP/RH and ante-natal care. Training of health volunteers, commodity distributors, health professionals, youth, women’s and fishermen’s groups are the cornerstone of this education effort. The Project supports sustainability of these services by improving health infrastructure, strengthening health service institutions, and developing improved logistical channels to optimize the movement of health commodities. Natural resource management themes are integrated into all health activities, and the Project links local populations to opportunities that support them in their efforts to improve their economic well-being.
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